Tools to "Unteach"

August 26, 2010

I hate when I have to “unteach” a patient. It’s very difficult to get a patient to unlearn something that is wrong. Whether they heard it from a friend, family member, or on the Internet, if it doesn’t jibe with your message, your job as an educator just gets harder.

I hate when I have to “unteach” a patient. It’s very difficult to get a patient to unlearn something that is wrong. Whether they heard it from a friend, family member, or on the Internet, if it doesn’t jibe with your message, your job as an educator just gets harder.

The job is harder because you don’t really know how deep the misinformation goes. You don’t really know how much damage needs to be rectified just to get through a simple single point, whereas the information naive patient needs no correcting.

As Sara pointed out yesterday, giving your patients a list of “preferred” Internet resources can make your life simpler. It can help you “unteach.”

While I have taken this to an extreme, I have created my own Web site and use it as a resource. I have found it a valuable tool in educating my patients. The content was written by me and reflects the same messages I deliver in the office. It has taken a lot of work.

You may not have the time nor desire to do this, but at least make a list of Internet resources or websites that you prefer your patients read. Share with them, you’ll be surprised how this little task will reward you.

By sharing your resources, you are endorsing and giving credibility to those sources. This is a huge favor to your patient. They no longer have to wade through the Internet wondering if what they are reading is believable. It saves them time and they can learn without skepticism.

Giving patients resources that mirror your message, fortifies your message. It gives you a foothold to combat all the misinformation out there and decreases the amount you will have to “unteach.”

Sharing your Web resources also emphasizes that you endorse the Internet and do not feel it is a foolish place to spend time and learn. It makes you a more modern doctor.

Providing credible resources is simple and is a great alternative to creating your own page. It will enhance your education/compliance, make your relationships with your patients stronger and you’ll spend less time “unteaching.”